Getting started with content creation takes a lot of work. Sometimes, knowing what to create is a significant hurdle that many marketers and business owners need help clarifying. This explains why so many businesses’ blogs and social media channels remain underutilized. This is a shame because nothing will propel your business forward in terms of visibility and reputation more than a well-placed piece of content.
If you are struggling to produce a consistent flow of engaging, relevant, and timely content to publish on your blog, social media channels, email newsletters, and related marketing materials, content pillars can help you create a foundation to guide and build all of your future content efforts on.
What is a Content Pillar?
Marketers typically employ two widely utilized strategies to deploy content pillars. Both of these strategies are valuable and should be combined to optimize the success of your content marketing efforts. These two strategies include:
- Topics/Themes: A set of topics or themes that a business uses to support the creation of its marketing content. These topics/themes can be based on individual products or services, or cover a broader corporate sphere to include things like brand values, business culture, and client feedback.
- Foundational Content: A piece of content that serves as an in-depth resource on a specific topic or theme. It acts as a central hub from which related content can be derived and linked. Content pillars are often long-form articles, downloadable eBooks or whitepapers, or videos that cover a broad range of subtopics within a particular subject.
How Many Content Pillars Do You Need?
You can create as many content pillars as you like. However, it is important not to overstretch yourself. If your list of content pillars is too long, you risk “choice paralysis,” which is the paradoxical inability to make a decision based on too many choices.
In some cases, it may be possible to build a specific marketing project on a single content pillar. Meanwhile, organizations with a more diverse offering will need to create multiple content pillars.
When building your initial content pillars, they must be aligned with your immediate objectives and the available marketing resources to create the content.
Content Pillars for Owned Media
Owned media includes assets such as your website and blog. Each asset will require a different approach.
Your website will require specific category pages for each topic or theme. Each page will require specific, SEO-optimized content for each category. Although there really is no such thing as static content in online publishing, you won’t want to change this content too often (especially if it ranks well). Your website is also a great place to host landing pages designed to promote foundational content, encouraging visitors to register their contact details and subscribe to your email marketing newsletter.
Your content pillars are an excellent method of segmenting your email marketing lists. The process can be largely automated by carefully integrating your forms on your landing pages with your email marketing service provider. Marketing automation technology can take this relationship even further by triggering sends based on your subscribers’ engagement with your website, blog, social media, and other marketing assets.
Your blog is a place where you can get really creative with your content. Again, you can create multiple content categories for each pillar. However, unlike your website, you can and should update your blog on a regular basis. In fact, as the beating heart of your business, your blog should have a steady pulse.
You should, of course, use your foundational content to inspire your blog posts (always linking back to those all-important landing pages). Blog posts allow businesses to inject a little personality into their content, raising the profile of their employees as thought leaders and building trust and reputation.
Content Pillars for Social Media
Your content pillars should be reflected in your social media output. The ease with which social media posts can be created, scheduled, and posted means you can deploy more content pillars via social channels than you would on your blog or email newsletter.
There is no one-size-fits-all marketing approach to social media
This means on a channel like Twitter, which demands multiple posts per day, you could cover everything from product news and thought leadership (linking to your blog and foundational content) to posts highlighting company culture and values.
Meanwhile, you should take a more focused approach on social media channels like LinkedIn. Your connections on this business-friendly social channel may respond better to those posts focusing on company culture and values than more commercial messages. Similarly, marketers investing in channels like Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok will see greater success by creating visually engaging content rather than detailed written content.
Content Pillars for Podcasts
Podcasts provide an excellent way to add additional voices to your content pillars. By inviting guests (colleagues, business partners, clients, etc.) onto your podcasts, you will not only enhance your content by soliciting additional views and expertise. You’ll also be able to tap into your guests’ social networks and ultimately expand your reach.
The podcasts and video also provide excellent content for your blog posts, email marketing campaigns, and social media activities. A podcast may even become a foundational piece, demonstrating the circular nature of content.